A national initiative encourages Chicagoan to go outside.
By Tomi Obaro|
Despite David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s invitation, dancing in the street is highly impractical, even dangerous. Enter PlayStreets, a national initiative that started in Chicago last year. Influenced by a similar program in New York, PlayStreets provides participating neighborhoods with three-hour periods of uninterrupted outdoor activity and closes streets to make that possible.
“[PlayStreets] is really community-based, so you’ll see things like line-dancing demonstrations, Zumba classes, as well as Hula-Hooping, jump roping, [activities] that parents and kids can do together,” says Jason Eby, program director at World Sport Chicago, one of three nonprofits involved in PlayStreets. (The others are Active Transportation Alliance and LISC Chicago, in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and the Chicago Department of Public Health.)
On Monday 25 through Friday 29—Chicago Public Schools’ spring break—eight neighborhoods, including Little Village, Englewood and Washington Park, will take part.
“The organizations involved definitely wanted to take physical activity to communities in need,” Eby says of the program that initially targeted neighborhoods with high obesity rates. But he adds that PlayStreets events will also take place in North Side neighborhoods like Albany Park. About 1,000 people are expected to participate over the week. Eby says, “We want to break down the barriers to play.”